Gladstone rancher accused of animal abuse changes plea

The Gladstone Rancher accused of abusing nearly 100 animals changed his plea in court on Monday.

At the Stark County Courthouse, Gary Dassinger, the Gladstone rancher, accused of nine counts of animal cruelty and neglect reached a plea agreement with the state’s attorney’s office.

The prosecution agreed to drop the three felony counts of animal cruelty against Dassinger, but in exchange he plead guilty to six counts of animal neglect.

All of which are Class A Misdemeanors.

The state veterinarian will also be heading out to Dassinger’s ranch to inspect his current livestock and will decide if he has the adequate resources to provide for the animals.

Dassinger and his attorney said they came to a decision to change his plea last Friday, and they felt it was in his best interest not to go to trial.

“The main reason is I was concerned about the other farmers and ranchers in North Dakota. If I was found guilty of anything that would be case law against them to be used in the future too. I don’t believe I was guilty, but that’s the way the system works,” said Dassinger.

The final terms of the agreement are still being worked out by both sides, and sentencing has been scheduled for a future date, but the maximum penalty for a Class A Misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and $3,000 fine.

Dassinger was charged with animal neglect and cruelty of his horses and cattle last April.

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